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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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2010 Year In Review: Storm damage, election mayhem and LeBronslaught hit Greenwich

After a year where the town of Greenwich found itself at the center of the political and sports world for brief, intense flashes, it’s time for us to take a breath and a look back at 2010.

It was an exciting year filled with both triumph and tragedy and seemed to both drag and fly by in the blink of eye. This week the Post will take a look back at some of the major events of 2010 before we begin the hard work of living through 2011.

Nor’easter wreaks havoc

The powerful March storm downed trees and wires all over town leaving residents without power for almost a week. — Maggie Caldwell photo

The damage done by the March 13 nor’easter that socked Connecticut was more intense and longer lasting than anyone thought it would be. Downed trees and wind damage took out power all over town and residents were left without electrical service for days, and some even through the week. At the height of the damage, 63% of Greenwich households were without power, leaving 17,890 out of 27,955 in the dark and residents fuming at Connecticut Light and Power’s response.

Tragically, town resident June Einhorn, 61, was killed by falling trees while walking outside during the storm. Potential dangers forced the cancellation of school for a week with virtually all the town’s roads suffering damage. Gov. M. Jodi Rell even declared a state of emergency.

Trees were knocked down all over, even the iconic tree on the front lawn of Town Hall. Fortunately, thanks to the donation of town resident Mark Finerman, a replacement was planted and this month the town’s holiday tree has been as brightly decorated as ever.

The election

The town was front and center on the ballot this November with residents from both parties running for federal and state office. Ultimately, bucking the nationwide trend of Republican gains, it was Democrats who had the big night. Richard Blumenthal defeated his Republican opponent and fellow town resident Linda McMahon to succeed the retiring Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Ct.) despite her pumping nearly $50 million of her own money into an aggressive campaign. And Rep. Jim Himes (D-4), from Cos Cob, was part of a Connecticut Democratic sweep in house races, beating his Republican challenger by a greater margin than in his initial election in 2008.

On Election Day, State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was greeted at the polls by former Selectwoman and campaign supporter Lin Lavery. Mr. Blumenthal defeated fellow town resident Linda McMahon to win the senate seat of the retiring Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Ct). — John Ferris Robben photo

Republican town resident Tom Foley, however, was on the losing end of a tight race with former Stamford mayor Dan Malloy to be the next governor of Connecticut. Additionally, Greenwich resident Ned Lamont ran unsuccessfully for governor, losing the Democratic primary in August to Mr. Malloy.

While the Nutmeg State stayed true blue, town Republicans had plenty of reasons to cheer as they continued their dominance in Greenwich’s state legislator races. State Sen. L. Scott Frantz (R-36) and State Reps. Livvy Floren (R-149) and Alfred Camillo Jr. (R-151) all easily won reelection, and State Rep. Lile Gibbons (R-151) didn’t even have an opponent.

‘The Decision’

For one night, all eyes in the sports universe were on Greenwich on July 8 when basketball superstar LeBron James chose the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich to do his live special known as The Decision on ESPN where he announced where he would be signing as a free agent.

Fans from the tri-state area jammed the parking lot waving signs and flags awaiting word. While the choice of Greenwich for the announcement led to hope that Mr. James was about to sign with the New York Knicks, he ultimately dashed those hopes when he infamously announced, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” signing with the Miami Heat.

Hundreds of basketball fans huddled around radios and other information sources with breathless anticipation in July as basketball superstar LeBron James came to the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich to announce where he would go as a free agent. Ultimately though the fans turned angry when it was learned LeBron was spurning the Knicks to sign with the Miami Heat. — Paul Silverfarb photo

The announcement caused furious reaction outside from more than 600 basketball fans who had huddled around radios and laptops for nearly an hour of the special before he finally announced his decision. Bottles of Vitamin Water, a corporate sponsor for the event, were thrown and the anger was perhaps best summed up by spurned Knicks fan Spencer Hyman of Greenwich, who shouted “LeBron James doesn’t have a soul!”

Law and order

Recently, Greenwich Avenue was rocked by two brazen robberies. In November, thieves using sledgehammers smashed open display cases in Betteridge Jewelers, stealing merchandise before making a getaway. Then this month, an early morning robbery at the Apple Store had thieves breaking open a glass door and stealing electronics from the front before getting away. Police investigations in both incidents are ongoing.

In another notorious case, Greenwich police arrested three men in connection with a November 2009 robbery at the Mobil on the Run station in Old Greenwich where the attendant was shot in the head and lived. Greenwich resident Alain LeConte has been charged with attempted murder and robbery from the incident. He is also facing a murder charge from a similar robbery in Norwalk where the attendant was killed. His alleged accomplice, David Wash, was charged with being first degree robbery, and a third man, Teran Nelson, was expected to be arraigned this week for the Greenwich robbery.

Two long-running Greenwich murder cases also got jury verdicts this year. Last week, Carlos Trujillo was found not guilty of the 2006 murder of Greenwich real estate developer Andrew Kissel. However, the jury was split on the attempted murder charge by a 7-5 margin and the state could decide to seek a new trial next year. Prosecutors accused Mr. Trujillo of arranging the murder of his boss and not being the actual killer, but the jury was not convinced.

In another case a three-judge panel found Gerardo Lombardi guilty of manslaughter and not murder in the death of his former-daughter-in-law Alison McKnight, enraging her family. Mr. Lombardi both shot her three times and stabbed Ms. Lombardi close to 50 times in 2008 and in March the panel, led by Judge Richard Comerford, found that while the killing was “of a savage nature,” Mr. Lombardi was suffering from extreme emotional disturbance at the time of the killing. He was ultimately sentenced to 40 years in prison and at his advanced age of 77 this is considered a life sentence.

Cell towers

In a debate that will continue into 2011, residents are still demanding that a proposed T-Mobile cellular tower be moved from its proposed location at the Montgomery-Pinetum property. This is the second proposed location for the tower, which is being built as part of a contract between the provider and town resident Fred Durante. Originally it was supposed to be placed on property parents feared was too close to North Mianus School, and now land activists are protesting the potential use of the Montgomery-Pinetum property, saying it violates the spirit of the land being deeded to the town as open space.

Town officials have argued the tower would be placed in an area not part of the better known property that had once been used as a dumping area, but open space advocates have claimed that is untrue. In November, First Selectman Peter Tesei and Selectman David Theis voted to hire a consultant to look at alternatives in terms of location and technology. However, as of this week no consultant had been hired and the original goal of having a report by Jan. 30 could be in doubt.

The town is not the final authority here as T-Mobile could apply to the state’s Siting Council for a final ruling on whether the Montgomery-Pinetum property, or even the original site in North Mianus, could be used and the town would not be able to stop it. At this time, T-Mobile has not done so and has said they will work with the town for a resolution.

Victory on the field

This year was another strong one for Greenwich High School athletics.

The spring season was highlighted by the Greenwich High School rugby and boys lacrosse teams, as they brought the state and FCIAC trophies to GHS. In longtime head coach Steve Lapham’s final rugby match with the Cards, Greenwich upended Fairfield Prep 24-14 to win the state championship. Not to be outdone was the Greenwich lacrosse team. In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Cards, seeded fifth in the FCIAC tourney, upset Ridgefield and Darien and then beat New Canaan 5-4 for the team’s second FCIAC crown in four years.

The Greenwich High School boys lacrosse team, after upsetting Ridgefield and Darien, upended New Canaan 5-4 in the FCIAC championship game to claim the team's second title in four seasons.

During the fall season, Big Red came away with four championships, with the GHS girls swimming and diving team scoring two of them. The Lady Cardinals won the class LL championship in grand fashion, outscoring second place Glastonbury 958.5 to 499.5. In the state open finals, Greenwich once again came out on top, beating the same New Canaan team that upset Greenwich at FCIACs, 579.5 to 544.

For the second time in four seasons, the Greenwich High School girls soccer team found its way to the top of the FCIAC, beating Westhill High in a thrilling 1-0 overtime match. Also having a season to remember was the GHS girls volleyball team. They lost to Fairfield Ludlowe in the FCIAC finals, but the two met again in the class LL championship game. Although the Falcons grabbed a 2-0 lead and appeared to pick up its first class LL crown, the Lady Cards fought back and won the contest 3-2 (24-26, 13-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-13) for their first-ever class LL championship.

Tribute to a friend

To mark the memory of beloved Perrot Memorial Librarian Kathy Krasniewicz who, along with fellow librarian Kate McClelland, was killed by a drunk driver in January 2009 in Colorado, “Kathy’s Corner” was dedicated in the Greenwich Alliance for Education’s Storymobile, which travels to town preschools to provide early reading education.

To honor a beloved friend since childhood, former town resident Leigh Barbour began donating to the Storymobile and in November, the special area of the Storymobile, complete with a painting of a dragonfly, which held special significance to Ms. Krasniewicz, was opened to bring her love of reading and to inspire children as she’d been inspired.

“It’s perfect,” Ms. Barbour said when seeing it. “Kathy would be just thrilled.”

Unsealed memories

In December old memories were brought to light and new memories sealed to be discovered again in the future at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich.

To mark the club’s 100th birthday in town, a time capsule placed in the building’s southwest cornerstone back in 1939 was removed and opened up. Photos, newspaper clippings and other mementos placed inside by club members were revealed and a new time capsule was put in its place to be opened in 2039 to celebrate the 100th anniversary that year of the club being in its Horseneck Lane location. To mark the event, past members of all generations were invited back to celebrate. One of the returnees was Greenwich resident Bob Fox, who was there when the time capsule was sealed in 1939.

At the time, he placed a picture in it of himself and his brother Raymond taken by their mother with her black and white Kodak camera from their confirmation because it was one of the few photos they had in their house. Now seeing the photo again brought tears to his eyes.

“I think a lot of energy and a lot of special feelings went into that time capsule and we’re going to get to see that and create our own capsule today,” Bob DeAngelo, the club’s executive director said. “And for me what’s really cool is that I don’t think anything’s changed over the years. Kids are still precious here just like they were back in 1939.”



Apple burglary: Cops likely following electronic leads

GREENWICH -- While police remain tight-lipped about the Apple Store burglary last week on Greenwich Avenue, former investigators said there are likely ample leads in the case thanks to security features built into the stolen electronic goods.

Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said in the Greenwich scenario, Apple security and police will need to work together to crack the case.

"The manufacturer is the lead player in determining how the technology can be traced," said O'Donnell, a former New York City prosecutor and New York police officer. "The police will play a secondary role. Ultimately, Apple knows better than anybody how to trace their own technology."

Last Tuesday, at least five hooded thieves smashed through a glass front door of the Apple Store at 356 Greenwich Avenue and made off with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment.

The perpetrators left the store in less than a minute, police said, and fled in a car. Detective Timothy Powell, the lead investigator on the case, said Monday the thieves used a rock to break the front door. He declined to release any details about the investigation, particularly about whether police can track the stolen goods using locator chips inside.

O'Donnell said he believed Apple products could be traced much like police can trace cellular technology. But he said Apple has to guard its security measures to stay one step ahead of the criminals.

"Apple is going to be guarded about publicly revealing the methods and modes used to trace their stolen stuff," O'Donnell said.

Tracking the stolen items electronically is only the first step of the investigation, according to attorney Wayne Keeney, who worked as an investigator with the New York Police Department and as a prosecutor in Florida.

Read more:

Riverside man taking molestation case to trial - Greenwich Citizen

A former Greenwich High School teaching aide charged with molesting a 10-year-old boy has opted for a jury trial after failing to come to a resolution with prosecutors, according to his lawyer.

Andrew Knapp, 28, of Riverside, was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor earlier this year after police said he inappropriately touched a boy while showering in the locker room at the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club.

Knapp's attorney, Rob Serafinowicz, said after meeting with prosecutors several times, they have decided to fight the charges at trial to clear Knapp's name. Knapp has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

"This case will go to trial and a jury will see the truth," Serafinowicz said. "My client looks forward to this trial and dealing with this matter and moving on with his life."

Detectives began investigating Knapp when a Greenwich boy's parents became suspicious of Knapp's behavior and asked their son about him. The son said that Knapp had touched him on four occasions while in the locker room shower. In each instance, Knapp allegedly came into the shower stall naked and asked to borrow some shampoo and if the boy could wash his back where he could not reach, according to the warrant. The victim told police that on three of the four occasions, Knapp washed the boy's back and Knapp's hands went "from his back to the top of (the boy's) buttocks," according to the warrant.

Knapp worked at the Boys & Girls Club as a swim instructor. He was also employed by Greenwich High School. Since his arrest, he has resigned from both positions.....



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GREENWICH BRIEFING: Greenwich native's stuffed germ toys catching on

This Just In To The Greenwich Newsroom .....
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American Surgical Holdings, Inc. announced today that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which American Surgical will be acquired and taken private by AH Holdings Inc., an affiliate of Great Point Partners, I LP , a Greenwich, CT-based private equity fund.

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